Dunedin's Best Cafe owner Jessica Marks faces a "feeding frenzy" of customer demand and is taking nothing for granted as her fourth Bluff oyster season begins.
Marks drove to Bluff at the weekend, and returned to Dunedin with 50 dozen oysters — some obtained on Sunday and others yesterday — so they were available in her city cafe from 1pm yesterday.
• Six 'healthy' foods as bad or worse for you than a Big Mac
• Annual food price rise biggest since GST-influenced 2011
• Verdict is 'yummy' as PM serves up food for Flaxmere kids
• Coronavirus: Kiwi family trapped in Wuhan running out of food
She had a good relationship with her oyster supplier, but continued to phone each day, both to check on availability for the cafe's standing order and to see if any more of the southern delicacy might become available.
She took over in 2017 as owner-operator of the cafe, which her great-grandfather Patrick Collins had established in 1932.
She fully appreciated that overall customer demand exceeded supply, and remained "humble", given the circumstances.
"I respect the fact that they have a lot of other clients who want the oysters as much as I do."
A bit of "southern charm" helped, as she tried to secure the best supply for her customers, including some who travelled from out of town for oyster meals, and overseas tourists.
"I'm very grateful and I'm never taking anything for granted."
Knowing the availability of "wild" oysters was weather dependent, she did all she could to avoid having "a lot of disappointed customers".
At her cafe, a dozen oysters, whether cooked or ''natural'', were served as part of a meal, with hand-cut chips and bread, and sold for $49.50, the same as last year, she said.
Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters manager Graeme Wright said the weather at the start of the season on Sunday was better than at the corresponding time of the previous "very average year".
There were also other positive signs, such as "very little mortality" arising from the bonamia parasiteand the presence of baby oysters, which augured well for future supply.
The season, which runs until August 31, had started positively.
"I'll tell you in a month's time how it ends up," Wright said.